Mets fans debate whether Harrison Bader should wear 48

Is 48 too holy to hand out this soon?
Chicago Cubs v New York Mets
Chicago Cubs v New York Mets / Adam Hunger/GettyImages

The New York Mets have done a lot of things wrong when it comes to honoring their history. As far as numbers are concerned, they’ve waited far too long to pay tribute to many of the franchise greats. Up for debate is whose numbers they should actually retire. Typically, when a player is obviously on a Hall of Fame track, they’ve closed the door on handing out the number ever again. Tom Seaver was the last to wear 41. No other Mets player wore Mike Piazza’s number 31. I dare someone to wear number 5 after David Wright.

Most of the number debates regarding the Mets are based on statistics. One of the latest has to do with the number that’ll appear on the back of Harrison Bader’s jersey.

The number 48 was what Bader wore during his time with the St. Louis Cardinals. He switched to 22 with the New York Yankees and then to 4 with the Cincinnati Reds. Is the number 48 significant for him? Most Mets fans won’t care. 48 belongs to Jacob deGrom and should never be worn ever again by another players.

Should Harrison Bader be allowed to wear 48?

The simplest solution would be to give Bader one of those other jersey numbers he wore. Unfortunately, 22 is what Brett Baty wears and number 4 belongs to Francisco Alvarez. Giving him 22 would’ve been the great compromise. A Holy Grail number in Mets history, it was worn by 1969 World Series MVP Donn Clendenon and again by 1986 World Series MVP Ray Knight. The uncanny coincidence could have been an opportunity for Bader to prove he knows his Mets history.

Alas, those are taken. And for a free agent on a one-year contract, he’s unlikely to care enough about his second and third big league numbers. So what do the Mets do?

As a Bronxville native, Bader should already have enough of an understanding about the Mets culture. Until recently, Seaver and Piazza were the only two retired numbers of players. Steve Cohen has added plenty more above Citi Field with more on the way.

deGrom is a much more curious case than some of those past Mets whose numbers have been held to a high standard. Seaver and Piazza had already locked themselves into Cooperstown. Wright is easily the most beloved in franchise history for his on and off-the-field reputation. For deGrom, there is some bitterness. He left the Mets partly by choice. The other part is because the Texas Rangers were willing to pay him a lot more for a lot longer.

deGrom is more like Strawberry than Gooden in this regard. Strawberry left the Mets for the Los Angeles Dodgers in free agency. The Mets didn’t wait long to hand out his number 18. Bret Saberhagen began wearing it in 1992 after Strawberry last dawned it in 1990. Both his number and Gooden’s were handed out regularly over the years. We’d think the Mets know better now.

The thing with the number 48 is that it’s much more random. Worn by plenty of pitchers including some notable ones such as Randy Myers, Glendon Rusch, and Aaron Heilman before deGrom, it’s a little less excusable to pass out than a number in the teens.

Bader didn’t wear 48 with the Yankees because Anthony Rizzo had it. With the Reds, Alex Young already had possession. As a member of the Mets, we’d need to be a fly on the wall to know if they’d even allow him to choose to wear 48. No one wants to rock this boat so soon after. Right or wrong, the Mets won’t pass out the number 48 again until someone has a very good reason to wear it. No one should accept it either. It’s like asking for unnecessary criticism.